Author Interview | Discussing the world within the Voyages of Jake Flynn series with R.J. Wood

Posted Sunday, 24 June, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

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Good morning, dear hearts! Today, I have a special treat for you, as I had the chance to interview the author of a new Upper Middle Grade / Young Adult Fantasy series wherein I get to re-visit the concept of Space Pirates and flying ships once more! As you might recall, I happened to love the pirates I found on the Rim, in the audiobook ‘Rimrider’ whilst when it comes to flying ships in space, outside of The Clan Chronicles – there have been quite a few recently which have tempted me into their chapters! I love how we can bend what is plausible in Speculative Lit and take ordinary ships which were meant for the waters of Earth and re-position them into orbit where they find a new way of being useful as transportation in the Cosmos!

Ahead of the conversation, I have with Mr Wood, is an extract from the latest installment of the series ‘Beyond the Moon’, which touches on part of the background of the series wherein the origins of Jake Flynn and his parents but also, the legacy he has within him as he’s given a talent few can claim as their own. This is part of what is extraordinary about the series, as his particular gift is what helps ignite the ships themselves to be able to fly as you will learn more in my interview! For now, enjoy this extract!

Extract from ‘Beyond the Moon’ by R.J. Wood

the second novel in the Voyages of Jake Flynn; used with permission of the author

“Tychus was the last known of his people,” Jayron said. “He disappeared a dozen years ago after the Ithirian fleet perished. The rest of his people were killed or worse by your people on Celestra.” Starla made no visible reaction.

“It seems Tychus and his wife survived, went to Earth, and had a son there,” she said. “Furthermore, I am sure you are aware of the rift amongst my people; the rebellion between those who did not support the actions taken against the humans and those who did. Otto and I are among the first.”

“This is all preposterous,” Daegus said. “How can we believe anything a Celestrian has to say?” With that, the councilors began to argue the possibilities amongst themselves. Their voices rose quickly and in intensity, all except for Kilian. The old one sat there and quietly stared at Jake with an expression of curiosity. Finally, he sat up and spoke something that was drowned out by the others. He tried to repeat himself louder, but still he could not be heard over the discord. At last, he reached over Richard, grabbed a black iron mallet on the table, and slapped it down hard several times until the room grew quiet.

“I said, CAN HE CHANNEL?” The old man finished and began to pant.

Jake stepped forward and held up his hands. A moment later the glow of his aura filled the room. The humans all stared at him and one of them caught their breath. Kilian then spoke in whispered tones as if reciting a poem,

“Born and raised on distant star.
Searcher bound both near and far…”

He trailed off, but Starla picked it up and continued.

“What he seeks he does not know,
until he lets his family grow.

Against the tide he must stride.
A mighty ship he will ride.
Guided true by faithful hands
chasing dreams to far-off lands,

Through the torrents to the core,
where ancient evil stirs once more.
To keep a dark queen at bay,
A gift of love must win the day.

Single light in starless night,
burning hot and shining bright.
Time will come when he must stand.
The fate of all held in his hand.”

When she finished all eyes were upon Jake and there was silence.
“Yes,” Starla said after a pause, “he is the one this prophesy speaks of. Jake is the Justicar and he needs your help.”

I was thankful Mr Wood went into quite a few details surrounding both the light energy and the propulsion of the ships but also, gave a bit of a hinting towards the heart of the series itself as it revolves through Jake Flynn! I almost wish some of this back-story had been included in the first novel ‘Destiny’s Gambit’ as I found how the author describe his world in this conversation would have benefited the story. As you truly get a firm understanding of what he is attempting to achieve in the series (in regards to scope) but also, it gives you a keen insight which I think would have tempered the confusion I had initially trying to sort out the world-building.

This is a very imaginative series and one which I think would interest all readers, irregardless of age, due the cross-components of where elemental magic, old world ships and adventurous Quests intersect to give us something to chew on about personal destiny, chosen families and the will to seek answers for questions which tug at our souls. I look forward to reading your thoughts in the threads below this conversation and I hope you find it as wicked lovely as I did in receiving the author’s responses!

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The voyages of Jake Flynn series:

Destiny's Gambit by R.J. WoodBeyond the Moon by R.J. Wood

Destiny’s Gambit | book one | see also Review

Beyond the Moon | Book Two | synopsis

I do enjoy a wicked good transmorphication – there is a cheeky good one in Destiny’s Gambit, which takes place during a rescue attempt aboard a pirate ship! What impressed me the most is how honest it was to happen – as this was a stirring of the back-story on behalf of Jake and his parents, or rather even, his ‘kind’. There is an old order of magic in this realm which can be channelled and re-directed at will, which makes it wicked awesome! I also liked how most of the magic involves light energy and the transference of this energy in order for things to work.

There is also elemental magic present which makes for interesting scenes but what truly captured me was the teamwork and evolving partnership between Jake, Starla, Otto and Jehn. They were forging a new path together, seeking to get away from their mutual enemies and sorting out the details of their personal discoveries of each other along the way. As most of this story takes place aboard ship, I was awaiting the conflict to begin – where two ships or more would be pitted against each other. When the time finally came, I found the battle was stalled a bit too easily but further what interested me is how there are portals which act as hyperspace jaunts for the ships – where you can literally move yourself through this part of the universe in a faster way than normal space.

I truly loved the symbolism and the analogies threading through Destiny’s Gambit as well as the spirituality which was hugged softly into the background. There are a lot of life affirming lessons being shared through the adventures of Jake Flynn – including how to handle fear, uncertainty, ambiguous loss (of his parents) and to grow out of the courage you never knew you had within you. It’s a story about a boy coming of age after finding out everything he thought he know about himself and his origins was only part of the true story. Once he was in-flight away from Earth, it wasn’t just his origins which were calling him home but it was his truer nature and the destiny which was awaiting for his arrival to become revealled.

-quoted from my review of Destiny’s Gambit

Genres: Sci-Fantasy | Steampunk | Space Pirates

Young Adult | Magic | Adventure

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As we share an affinity for ‘Master and Commander’ – even if I entered this series a bit late (as I saw the film with my Dad) without first properly reading it – would you say your love of this kind of epic scope of sailed exploration, personal growth and the purity of discovery whilst aboard ship influenced how you wanted to tell the stories within the Voyages of Jake Flynn? And, if so, in which ways for those who are as keenly invested in the lives of Aubrey/Maturin? Or, was it more of a combination of all the shipfarer stories you love rolled into one – with the inclusion of Firefly, Battlestar Gallactica (my preference is the original, too!) and Horatio Hornblower? What do you love that all of these lovelies share in common irregardless if they are first visited in novel or motion picture?

Wood responds: Patrick O’Brian has indeed influenced my writing. ‘Not a Moment to Lose’ is the name of one of the chapters in Beyond the Moon. This is a tip of the hat to him that fellow O’Brian fans should recognize. That being said, my love of nautical and maritime history goes beyond his books. I think you are spot on with the energy that pulses through the Aubrey/Maturin books – epic…exploration…the ocean…adventure, but it is also a story of two men who become like brothers. These same themes run through my own books, especially self-discovery, and family beyond bloodlines. Duty, honor, sacrifice – these are the aspects of the hero, the shining knight which you will find at the heart of most of the heroes in the stories you mentioned. Jake has such a heart, as does Starla, Jehn and the rest of Jake’s ‘family.’

What do you love most about creating the backdrop of Jake Flynn’s world and what would surprise readers to learn what influenced you to bend genre elements into the world itself? As it definitely feels like there is a rooting of both Fantasy and elements of Steampunk threading through the narrative?

Wood responds: I mean, come on, tall-ships from the Age of Sail, flying in space, are pretty darn cool. I think I have always wondered what a world that embraced magic over science might be like. If you had magic healers, you would not need doctors, right? If you could make ships fly, you would not need airplanes or spacecraft. Limited technology means no gunpowder, so no cannons. Instead, I mounted medieval and Roman siege weapons on the ships. Why not? In space, the projectiles don’t slow down. It was not actually Steampunk that inspired my ships. I do acknowledge that airships are a popular device for the genre. My inspiration came from the pirate ship in Peter Pan that brings Wendy and her brother’s home, as well as, a Spelljammer adventure that I played in my younger years. So, a nod to J.M. Barrie and Jeff Grubb.

How did you develop the science behind how your ships are constructed and how they sail? What inspired the choices you used to have them develop the ability for space travel?

Wood responds: I spent nearly a year building the history and galaxy that Jake lives in before I wrote the first sentence of the story. The channeling system, the types of channelers, I even have diagramed how the channeling works. World building is extremely complicated. It is easier in that you can make stuff up, but harder in that you have to make EVERYTHING up. Plus, you then keep its continuity. I needed someone to power these flying ships. Enter the Cosmic Magian (Magi is plural). Their common name is Corsair. They manipulate gravity and the cosmic energy of the universe. This allows them to make artificial gravity and the forcefields that keep the air in a bubble around the ship. From there, I let them also heat the boards of the ship for warmth. That leaves air. They can’t actually make oxygen, but Air Magians can. So, I came up with the ship’s core, a magic device. This device makes the ship’s air, but it also can mimic the powers of a Corsair. This was important, because it untethered Jake from the ship. Now, we can have non-Corsairs able fly the ships into space by powering the core with an energy gem. Each channeler group has an affinity to a different gemstone and that color is most visible in the channeler’s glow and the ship’s sails. You see, it was a process. I started with problems needed to fly a tall ship in space and solved them one by one. It is by no means scientifically sound or perfect, and is not meant to be. This is an adventure tale, a sea yarn.

Space pirates stories are starting to gain traction – what do you think will set your pirates apart from the others and which of the space pirates is your favorite to see coming into a scene and breathing life to their character?

Wood responds: I have not read every space pirate tale out there, but I hope that readers appreciate that I tried to give my lead pirates viable motivations. Onyx, for example, is not evil; he is an opportunist. Celia is beautiful, brilliant, scary, and cruel. She was a fun to write because her character is so rich. Her inner dialogue was biting, and she had fashion sense to boot! What a great role. Even though Jake is the lead, it was very important for me to have strong female characters in my story. Celia Sable is one of them.

Which character took you by the most surprise and became one of your favorites to develop?

Wood responds: I spend more time on my characters than most writers probably do, even my minor characters. I try to give each something to bring them alive in the reader’s eyes. My favorite characters are not the leads. Don’t get me wrong, I love them too, but there is something magical about minor characters like Old Roger who loves birds, Hotch who sits at the ship wheel and makes comments under his breath, and the Falcon woman with the big smile. These background characters are truly what makes Jake’s universe come alive.

As this is a seeker story – about a young boy in search of the truth about his parents and the personal destiny he is meant to embrace, what inspired you to tell a story which self-evolves through dangerous adversity, otherworldly creatures and be hinged to the Cosmos as far as setting is concerned? What inspired the heart of the series?

Wood responds: Yes, Jake is seeking his parents, but he is also on a path to adulthood and must navigate those waters. I think by the end of the series we will look back and say that it was a coming-of-age story wrapped in a seeker shell. Jake is being thrown into the waters of adversity and forced to swim. Adversity can be an effective teacher – practical wisdom through experience. There is no manual to be a Justicar. Jake has to figure it out, just as all of us have to figure out how to be an adult. Tychus and Amanda Flynn, Jake’s parents, are important to Jake, but only in that he has set them up on a pedestal as most children do. Like all of us, Jake will discover that his parents are humans and imperfect. He will hopefully discover that the needs of the many do outweigh his own. Still, finding parents are his goal in the beginning, his dream. I think that is something readers young and old can embrace in the beginning of the series. Everyone’s dream is out there, do you have what it takes to go out and make it come true.

As this is an evolving series – how many stories do you project will round out the Voyages of Jake Flynn? Do you plan to insert short stories or novellas as the series progresses or do you have a pre-determined number of novels you want to write to complete the saga? What can you share about future installments – in regards to direction or focus within those installments?

Wood responds: Wow, good question. The honest answer right now is that I do not know. I know how the series ends, but I don’t know exactly how Jake and crew are going to get there. We have a lot of things to deal with between now and then. Jake has to stop the Shadow Queen – arch villain. There are the magic rings Jake is finding – one for each channeler group. What is up there? (I know, tee hee). We have to discover the fate of both of Jake’s parents. Who is the red-headed girl who visit’s Jake’s dreams? Who are the other cabalists? What can I share for sure, one thing? Jake has to go to the Temple of Light to learn more about the Justicar’s powers and how to stop the Shadow Queen.

What is your favourite kind of magic you’ve put inside your world and what makes it uniquely different than other forms of magic in other Sci-Fantasy stories?

Wood responds: I love that the magic of this universe is tied to channeling energy from another plane of existence. We have positive energy from the plane of the Creator and negative energy from the plane of the Destroyer. On a unique note, I appreciate that the magic of the flint singers is uncommon, allowing them to shape stone via harmonics and manipulating the bonds of energy that hold it together. The magic of the unicorns also is a favorite, only in that they care how it is used, not how it works.

Being that you live in the Pacific Northwest, what is something you think might surprise people about either the landscape or the people who live there? As it is quite an interesting place to live climatically and topographically!

Wood responds: We don’t have any critters that are inherently poisonous like venomous snakes, scorpions, or highly toxic spiders. The climate here is just too wet for most of those species. We don’t have the typical four seasons the temperature is usually moderate year round. We only get a few weeks of really hot weather and only a few snow days each year. 60 degrees and overcast gray is typical Seattle weather. Yes, it rains a lot, but it does not rain a lot. What I mean is, it rains often, but the rain is usually a drizzle and not heavy or a deluge. We have more rain days, but not as much rainfall as other parts of the country. The rain keeps the air clean and the smog at bay.

If you could sail on a restored and actively available tall ship, where would you like to travel and why would you like to go to that specific place? When I first learnt you could still sail the larger ships, I dearly dreamt of going to the Galapagos Islands personally!

Wood responds: Good choice. For me, it is not as much the destination as the type of ship. I want to sail on a larger warship, like a ship of the line or a frigate. A ship of the line is a wooden battleship of the Napoleonic era. They often fought in big lines, one after the other, trying to pass the enemy and fire their cannons as they went by. If I had to choose a destination, I would want to go from Spithead to Gibraltar. That gets me the English coast, the channel, the French coast, the Spanish coast and the med.

About R.J. Wood

R.J. Wood

R. J. Wood has been creating stories and adventures for others since 1979. A bard at heart, he trained in Drama (BA) and History (MA) while at university. He currently lives near Snoqualmie Falls in Washington State with his wife and children. There he does a little fishing, some adventuring, and of course, his writing.

Like everyone of my generation and beyond I have been heavily influenced by film. I like to think of my books as movies in my mind. I developed my creative writing through fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal RPGs. My degree in drama helps me with story, characters, and especially dialogue. Having an advanced history degree is excellent for plots and characters, but it also helps me with world building.

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This interview is courtesy of:

Beyond the Moon blog tour via Lola's Blog ToursFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comBe sure to visit my bookish thoughts on behalf of the first novel in this series “Destiny’s Gambit” (see also Review) whilst I am in the process of reading the second novel “Beyond the Moon” as it has only just arrived! I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you as soon as I’ve read it!

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Similar to blog tours where I feature book reviews, as I choose to highlight an author via a Guest Post, Q&A, Interview, etc., I do not receive compensation for featuring supplemental content on my blog. I provide the questions for interviews and topics for the guest posts; wherein I receive the responses back from publicists and authors directly. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them; I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Destiny’s Gambit” and “Beyond the Moon” as well as the synopsis for “Destiny’s Gambit”, the author’s photo and biography, the extract from “Beyond the Moon”, the blog tour banner and the tour host banner were all provided by Lola’s Blog Tours and are used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 24 June, 2018 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Family Life, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Literature for Boys, Lola's Blog Tours, Nautical Fiction, Science Fantasy, Self-Published Author, Small Towne USA, Urban Fantasy, Washington, West Coast USA, YA Fantasy

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